Cars of the Show
February was cold and snowy on the streets of Chicago — and the Windy City lived up to its nickname — but inside the massive McCormick Place convention center, media days kickstarted the 2018 Chicago Auto Show with some hot new models. Naturally there were plenty of trucks and SUVs on display, but here we’re looking at cars of the show — although calling some of these cars might be a stretch. With models ranging from a snow-going sports car to three-wheeled machines to fuel-efficient sedans, there is something for everyone at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show, which runs February 10–19, 2018.
Subaru 50th Anniversary
In 1968 Subaru came to America with its only offering: the tiny but fuel-efficient 360. Fifty years later, the Japanese car company is not only celebrating its anniversary, but also 10 consecutive years of sales growth. In honor of this momentous occasion, Subaru is creating a 50th anniversary edition of each model in its lineup. The current line ranges from the efficient Impreza to the high-performance WRX STI, with the Legacy, Crosstrek, Forester, Outback and BRZ (the only 2WD Subaru available) in between.
Subaru 50th Anniversary
All Subaru special anniversary editions are swathed in Heritage Blue paint, a color exclusive to these celebratory models. They also feature satin-chrome trim, 50th anniversary badging and unique alloy wheels (except BRZ). Inside, seats get covered in black upholstery with contrasting silver stitching. The theme continues with silver seatbelts and a 50th anniversary logo embroidered on the front seats and carpeted floormats. Subaru is building a limited supply of these editions — 1,050 copies each of the Impreza, Legacy, Crosstrek, Forester and Outback. Only 800 WRX/STIs will be available, and the BRZ will be limited to a mere 250 units.
Volkswagen introduced the all-new Arteon at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, and this premium sedan finally made its North American debut in Chicago. With sleek coupelike lines, the new Arteon is a fastback with a wide-opening rear hatch that offers impressive cargo capacity. As the future flagship of the VW lineup, the Arteon will be available with the latest high-tech safety features including — for the first time — predictive cornering lights that use camera and navigation information to illuminate curves in the road as you approach them.
The Arteon is Volkswagen’s brand shaper,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North American Region for Volkswagen. “This car is the spiritual successor to the CC, but it is bolder and faster. Arteon has the style and performance of a luxury Gran Turismo for about the price of a fully loaded midsize sedan.” More than five inches longer than the CC it replaces, the Arteon offers a much roomier cabin. Power will come from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that puts out 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard; however, Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system will be available on all trim levels. Arteon is expected to roll into Volkswagen showrooms this fall.
In keeping with Chicago’s wintry weather, Nissan brought the perfect snow-going concept car to the show. The 370Zki started life as Nissan’s 370Z Convertible — which is already a blast to drive, especially with the top down and a winding road ahead. But this special snow-going Zki trades high-performance rubber for skis and tracks, transforming it into the ultimate sports car snow mobile. Of course, the Zki retains Nissan’s 3.7-liter V6 engine generating 332 horsepower, directed to the rear tracks via a 7-speed automatic transmission.
A lot of work went into turning Nissan’s Z-car into this one-off 370Zki concept. The entire drivetrain had to be removed before fitting the sports car with a 3-inch lift kit for added ground / snow clearance. The Zki retains its factory brakes, but the brake lines had to be rerouted and the exhaust system modified so they would fit under the vehicle. The rear fenders also underwent modifications to make room for 4-foot-long snow tracks. Up front, additional suspension mods allow steering via skis mounted to the front hubs. The engine and transmission also had to be custom-mounted, and a front skidplate protects the undercarriage from damage in deep snow. Both the skis and tracks come from American Track Truck.
2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Last year Hyundai revealed a completely redone Sonata, and in Chicago this year the Korean automaker introduced the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid. Echoing its standard counterpart, the Sonata Hybrid gets bold new front-end styling with a hood that slopes farther down to meet a low, wide grille flanked by vertical LED daytime running lights. At the rear, the license plate has been repositioned lower and a Hyundai logo adorns the center of the trunk lid. Finishing the new look are sleek LED taillights. The interior features a new instrument panel as well as a new heated steering wheel.
2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Although styling has been updated, the Sonata Hybrid recycles the previous year’s powertrain: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine teamed with permanent magnet synchronous electric motor. Total output for the hybrid system is 193 horsepower, and the Sonata Hybrid can reach speeds as high as 75 mph on electric power alone. The Plug-In Hybrid utilizes the same 2.0-liter engine, but it gets a more potent electric motor for a total of 202 horsepower, allowing the plug-in to travel up to 27 miles on electric power alone.
A unique vehicle on display during media days at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show was the Polaris Slingshot. Not quite a motorcycle, not quite a car, the Slingshot has three wheels — two in front and one centrally-located wheel at the rear. The vehicle steers with its two front wheels like a car, and power goes to the rear wheel. Like a car, Slingshot comes in different trim levels; making its debut in Chicago was the new Grand Touring LE, which features the Slingshade roof to protect passengers from the elements. The top-level Touring LE also gets quilted comfort seats, an infotainment system with turn-by-turn navigation.
“The Grand Touring LE is a fully loaded limited-edition model for the driver looking for the latest and greatest in technology, rider comfort and premium styling,” said Rachael Elia, Slingshot marketing manager. “The Grand Touring LE is the perfect offering whether looking to escape town for the weekend or turn heads while cruising Main Street,” Elia noted. Slingshot is powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine sending 173 horsepower to the rear wheel. The Grand Touring LE starts at $29,999 and goes on sale in March.
Hyundai Veloster N
An all-new version of the sporty Veloster debuted earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, and in Chicago Hyundai showcased a high-performance version, the Veloster N. This is the first of what could be several models in a new N lineup. To differentiate it from the standard version, Veloster N features a unique front fascia and grille, dedicated air ducts for enhanced brake cooling, side rocker sills, a rear spoiler, dual exhaust and 19-inch lightweight alloy wheels. The Veloster N also gets a retuned suspension as well as an available electronically-controlled N Corner-Carving Limited-slip Differential.
Hyundai Veloster N
More than a mere appearance package, the Veloster N gets a larger 2.0-liter turbocharged engine generating 275 horsepower and 260 ft-lb of torque, teamed with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission. Power is put to pavement via standard 225/40R18 Michelin Pilot SuperSport summer tires or available 235/35R19 Pirelli P-Zero summer tires for the optional 19-inch alloy wheels. With so much power in this small coupe, performance should be impressive. We look forward to some time behind the wheel when it arrives later this year.
Ford Mustang Bullitt
To car and movie buffs alike, Steve McQueen at the wheel of a 1968 Ford Mustang GT pursuing a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco remains one of the best chase scenes ever put to film. The iconic sequence from “Bullitt” was shot 50 years ago, and to commemorate that anniversary Ford has introduced an all-new 2019 Mustang Bullitt. The 2019 Mustang Bullitt is a proper tribute to the original, swathed in classic Dark Highland Green paint and subtle chrome accents with classic torque thrust 19-inch aluminum wheels. Shadow Black is also available. The interior has a balanced mix of classic and modern touches with an all-digital LCD instrument cluster and available Recaro black leather seats with green accent stitching.
Ford Mustang Bullitt
“This new Bullitt is, as Steve McQueen was, effortlessly cool,” said Darrell Behmer, Mustang chief designer. “As a designer, it’s my favorite Mustang — devoid of stripes, spoilers and badges. It doesn’t need to scream about anything — it’s just cool.” The nostalgic Mustang boasts an upgraded 5.0-liter V8 engine producing at least 475 horsepower, giving this Bullitt the capability to exceed 160 mph. The Bullitt’s manual transmission features a classic white cue ball shift knob. To create the proper sound, this special Mustang gets an active-valve performance exhaust tuned to give this car a signature burble. The Bullitt is scheduled to arrive in showrooms this summer.
The flagship of the Toyota model line gets a complete makeover for the 2019 model year. Moving into its fifth generation, Avalon is now built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture, which means the premium model is longer, wider and lower for a more aggressive stance. Up front, narrow headlights flank a very large grille, further emphasizing the big sedan’s width. Like the new Camry that debuted at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Avalon uses distinct grilles to differentiate trim levels.
The centerpiece of Avalon’s new interior is a 9-inch display that integrates into the climate control system. Avalon also comes with a total of five USB ports as well as a standard wireless phone charger. Apple CarPlay has also been made standard — a first for Toyota. In terms of motive power, Avalon is available with either a 3.5-liter V6 engine or a fuel-efficient hybrid system. This new Avalon also possesses Toyota Safety Sense P — a full suite of the latest high-tech safety features.
The Jetta continues to be Volkswagen’s best-selling model, so a new version of this small sedan is a big deal for the German automaker. Built on a completely new platform, Jetta features a sleek coupelike design that adds some sportiness this time around. The new Jetta feels much more upscale than the outgoing model. Redesigned headlights with signature LED running lights are nicely integrated into the wide grille, creating a seamless line across the front. A sculpted hood adds to the sportier appearance. The Jetta is built on a new platform that features a lengthened wheelbase. Overall, the car is longer, wider and taller, which not only gives the Jetta a new look, it translates into a more spacious cabin.
The Jetta’s interior has been completely redone with a nicely integrated touchscreen display and available heated and cooled leather seats. A center storage console is large enough to handle a tablet computer. Depending on trim level, the Jetta’s interior can be customized with a choice of ambient colored lighting as well as Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit display, which gives the driver freedom to configure the information placed front and center. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and Jetta also is available with a 400-watt BeatsAudio sound system.
Hyundai i30 N TCR Race Car
At this year’s Chicago media days, Hyundai not only showcased its first high-performance N model, the Korean automaker also announced its intention to go racing. On display was the i30 N TCR race car (the i30 is sold as the Elantra in the U.S.) which will be competing in the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Racing class. Two cars will be run in partnership with Bryan Herta Autosport, each based on the i30 N but with considerable alterations. The race cars will get power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 350 horsepower, teamed with a 6-speed sequential gearbox.
Hyundai i30 N TCR Race Car
“Hyundai is thrilled about the prospects for our new N branded racing team competing in the Touring Car Racing class of Pirelli World Challenge,” said Dean Evans, chief marketing officer of Hyundai Motor America. “Our new partnership with world-renowned Bryan Herta Autosport and their phenomenal drivers coupled with the proven capabilities of our Hyundai i30 N racers puts us in a great position for success in the 2018 TCR season,” noted Evans. The first race will take place at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on March 23.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
The Corvette is already an impressive piece of machinery, but now there’s a new ultimate Corvette — the all-new ZR1. This new version made its debut late last year at the L.A. Auto Show, but it still grabs attention any time it’s displayed. Production of the previous ZR1 ended in 2013, coinciding with the rollout of the current-generation Corvette. At the time, the ZR1 was the most powerful and highest-performing Corvette in the company’s history. Not anymore, thanks to the all-new C7 ZR1. The new ZR1 will be available as a hardtop or convertible, easily recognized by an all-new front fascia that functions beyond mere styling — The new nose is designed to channel more air for better engine and drivetrain cooling. To create space for the supercharger / intercooler assembly, a special carbon fiber hood opens in the middle.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
The new ZR1’s LT5 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine rates a stunning 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque. The C7 ZR1’s standard transmission will be a 7-speed manual gearbox; however, an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters will also be available — the first time a ZR1 will be offered with an automatic transmission. This ZR1 boasts the highest output ever for a Chevrolet production vehicle; top speed is expected to exceed 210 mph. Of course, stopping power is just as vital as horsepower, and the ZR1 delivers. Massive 15-inch carbon-ceramic brake rotors occupy all four corners. Up front are 6-piston aluminum calipers, with 4-piston calipers in the rear. The all-new Corvette ZR1 goes on sale this spring. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for the ZR1 coupe is $119,995. The convertible MSRP will start at $123,995.